Response to Introduction of “Program or be Programmed”

“We don’t make TV; we watch it.” This quote by Douglass Rushkoff in the introduction of “Program or Be Programmed” is one that I found to be most interesting. Watching programs like Digital Nation leads us to believe that we are taking full advantage of the technology offered to us. In fact, many of these programs suggest that we are taking “too much” advantage, which is leading to our reliance on technology. But in this intro Rushkoff offers the theory that most humans don’t realize the extent of possibilities offered by new technology. For example, we think we are utilizing the full potential of the television by watching it, but few of us know how to make a television. Similarly, we use computers for a majority of work and entertainment, but many of us do not know how to program.

This problem is not new. Ever since the creation of the alphabet lead most people to listen to the literate instead of learning literacy themselves, we have seen this pattern take place. Only now, in the age of technology, is this problem becoming dangerous for humans. Rushkoff points out that humans are limited to the knowledge our brains can hold, but new machinery has an unlimited capacity of knowledge. The “We don’t make TV; we watch it” theory shows that we are always one step behind the capabilities of technology.

It truly scares me that we face the possibility of one day being much less smart than the machines we use. Programs like Digital Nation give a bad name to the over use of technology, but I believe that it’s necessary to be literate when it comes to technology so we can fairly compete with machinery. I agree with Rushkoff’s suggestion that humans should “rethink the limits of the human mind.” While computers seem to be smarter than us, they really only mock our thought processes. If we use our minds to their full potential, we won’t have to worry about being surpassed by machinery.

The article “What’s New About New Media” says that new technologies are always coming about. If we don’t want to be “outsmarted” by technology, we must take full advantage of all the new media we encounter and begin to “make TV” rather than to “watch it.”